To Milbank, Ending NPR and Afghan War Are Both ‘Trivial Pursuits’

Washington Post Dana Milbank (3/19/11) skewers the Republicans for their “emergency meeting” to defund NPR:

This particular emergency involved the lower end of the FM radio dial. Republicans, in an urgent budget-cutting maneuver, were voting to cut off funding for National Public Radio. All $5 million of it–or one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of the federal budget.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers and calculated the impact this emergency measure would have on government spending: “No effect.”

One of the rules of corporate media balanceisthat if you criticize Republicans, you have to findan example of similarbuffoonery on the other side. Milbank finds that in an effort to end the nine-year-old Afghan War, which nearly two-thirds of Americans now say is not worth fighting:

Democrats would have been in a good position to point out the Republicans’ lack of seriousness, except they were engaged in their own trivial pursuit. On Thursday, the same day the Republicans were doing battle with Diane Rehm, the House was also debating a bill by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) ordering full withdrawal from Afghanistan by yearâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s end.

Milbank explains: “Neither a vindictive slap at public broadcasting nor a pell-mell pullout from Afghanistan would be good policy,”though in the end he givesthe Democrats more credit for opposing majority opinion on the war:

In the end, the Democrats proved somewhat more adult in restraining impulses. Party leaders opposed Kucinich’s Afghanistan pullout plan as irresponsible, and most Democrats voted against it.

Well, thank goodness someone in Washington is being a grown up.

The desire to not debate the Afghan War seems to be a popular one at the Post.Today Fred Hiatt (3/21/11) cheers the fact that David Petraeus’ Congressional appearances on the Afghan War were free of rancor–unlike his 2007 testimony on the Iraq War:

At a time when our political system is said to be incapable of rising above poisonous partisanship to promote the national interest, Gen. David Petraeusâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s visit to Capitol Hill last week was instructive.

Hiatt adds:

Obama’s escalation, when 73 percent of Americans want substantial numbers of troops brought home, would seem to open fertile ground to Republicans. But from their leaders on down, they haven’t sought to plow there. In this instance at least, politics really has stopped at the water’s edge.

For the Post, it seems, democracy is supposed to stop at the water’s edge.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.